An ethnic armed group conference is to be hosted by the United Wa Solidarity Army (UWSA) at their headquarters on 1-3 May, according to a UWSA spokesperson.
The conference comes after the the ethnic armies’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and the government’s Union Peace-Making Work Committee recently reached agreement on a draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) text.
UWSA spokesperson Aung Myint told DVB: “It was decided by the ethnic groups last year to hold this conference, and that the Wa would organise it. We made the decision in February, at which time the ceasefire agreement was still under discussion.
“We aimed to hasten the process to call this conference. On March 31, the agreement was signed on the draft text between the UPWC and NCCT. The president urged us to sign. This conference will include the tasks needed to sign the ceasefire agreement. It will be the main agenda.”
The conference is scheduled for two days, with a possible extension if needed to conclude discussions, said Aung Myint.
Meanwhile, an open letter from a leading figure in Burma’s ethnic bloc has urged Burma’s president to stop offensives throughout the country, citing fear for the tentative progress towards a ceasefire.
In the letter, dated 13 April, United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) chairman Lt-Gen N’Ban La called on Thein Sein to solve its problems through negotiation, remarking with particular concern the ongoing conflict in the Kokang region.
The recent agreement on a draft NCA text by the NCCT and UPWC is a positive step towards the building of a federal union, N’Ban La suggested, but the army should stop its aggressions to implement the agreement.
The Kokang ethnic Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army is a member of both the UNFC, though was excluded from the recent peace talks. N’Ban La points out the peaceable history between the MNDAA and previous regimes.
Copies of the open letter were sent to commander in chief of Army Min Aung Hlaing as well as UPWC and UNFC members.
Thein Sein’s government in the past has rejected the offer of dialogue from the UNFC, only accepting talks with the NCCT.